Resources > How to Conduct an Effective Macro Environmental Analysis

How to Conduct an Effective Macro Environmental Analysis

Updated on: 01 May 2024 | 13 min read
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Have you ever considered how the world around us impacts the decisions we make in business? It’s not just about what’s happening within our company, but also about the external factors shaping our strategies. That’s where macro environmental analysis steps in. It helps us grasp the broader context of our operating environment, identifying both opportunities and threats. Consider it a vital tool in strategic planning.

In this guide, we’ll dive into macro analysis, exploring how businesses can visually represent and analyze these macro-environmental factors in a clear and organized manner.

What is Macro Environmental Analysis

Macro environmental analysis is a review and study of all the factors that a company is unable to control. It is like zooming out from a business’s immediate surroundings to take a big-picture view of the external factors influencing its operations. It’s about examining the broader environment in which a company operates, including political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors. This analysis helps businesses understand the landscape they’re operating in, spot trends, anticipate changes, and identify both opportunities and threats. Think of it as a strategic tool that helps businesses navigate the currents of the ever-changing world around them.

Macro environmental analysis, often conducted through PESTLE, SWOT, and Porter’s Five Forces frameworks, helps businesses navigate these complexities.

Macro Environmental Analysis Tools

The following tools will help you uncover valuable data insights and trends, crucial for making informed business decisions. Not only do they simplify analysis, but they also illuminate potential opportunities and threats in the external environment.

PESTLE Analysis

PESTLE analysis is a strategic tool used to analyze and understand the external factors that can impact an organization or a business. It stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors. By conducting a PESTLE analysis at the macro level, stakeholders can gain insights into the broader external factors shaping industries, economies, or entire nations, helping them anticipate opportunities and threats and formulate more effective strategies and policies. Businesses get a 360-degree view of what’s happening externally. It’s like having a roadmap that helps you spot opportunities and threats, plan strategically, and navigate through whatever changes come your way. Try our PESTLE Analysis tool to analyze the macro environment.

PESTLE Analysis for Macro Environmental Analysis
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PESTLE Analysis
  • Political factors: Think about government policies, taxes, trade policies, regulations, and even who’s in charge politically. Factors such as government stability, environmental policy, tax policy, trade policy, as well as upcoming elections, grants, initiatives and bureaucracy and political risk are important.

  • Economic factors: Things like inflation, interest rates, and how much people are spending. Economic growth, Inflation and interest rates, unemployment rates, and global economic trends are a few important factors to be considered. The state of the economy has a huge impact on your business so it can be an integral factor in business decision-making.

  • Social factors: It’s all about the people, culture, demographics, and what’s trendy. Factors such as lifestyle changes, demographic trends and social responsibility, population growth, health consciousness, career attitudes and health and safety can change social norms which can have an important effect on your business.

  • Technological factors: Think automation, new gadgets, and the ever-evolving tech landscape. Also digitalization, automation, software development, technology incentives and Data privacy and security laws should be considered as important factors.

  • Legal factors: From employment laws to intellectual property rights, this area keeps businesses in check. Regulatory frameworks, consumer laws and international trade roles play an important role. Legal factors always dictate what a business can or cannot do by law, so must always be analyzed and adhered to.

  • Environmental factors: Factors related to the natural environment and geography, climate change, natural conditions, sustainability, and how businesses impact the environment are all part of the mix. Regional environmental regulations should be considered as an important factor as well. These factors influence and support businesses to make positive changes in response to the environmental issues of the modern world.

PESTLE Analysis Variations

  1. PEST: The basic and the original framework looking at political, economic, social and technological factors.
PEST Analysis for Macro Environmental Analysis
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PEST Analysis
  1. PESTLE: The general comprehensive analysis of the main six factors; Political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental.

  2. LoNGPESTLE: PESTLE analyzed with geographic category factors. In this we look into local, national and global factors which stands for the LoNG acronym.

LoNGPESTLE Analysis for Macro Environmental Analysis
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  1. SLEPT: Stands for social, legal, economic, political and technological analysis excluding the environmental analysis.

  2. STEPE: Stands for social, technological, economic, political and ecological analysis.

  3. STEEPLE: Stands for social, technological, economic, ethical, political, legal, and ecological analysis.

STEEPLE Analysis for Macro Environmental Analysis
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STEEPLE Analysis
  1. DESTEP: Stands for demographics, economic, social, technological, environmental and political analysis.
DESTEP Analysis for Macro Environmental Analysis
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DESTEP Analysis
  1. STEEPLED: A combination of STEEPLE & DESTEP analysis variations.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is a study undertaken by an organization to identify its internal strength factors and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats. Swot Analysis can be adapted for macro analysis by focusing on broader environmental factors that influence entire industries, or economies. By conducting a SWOT analysis at the macro level, policymakers, businesses, and other stakeholders can gain insights into the broader opportunities and challenges facing industries or economies helping them formulate more informed strategies and policies.

SWOT Analysis for Macro Environmental Analysis
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SWOT Analysis

SWOT acts like a strategic lens, allowing you to zoom in on what makes you stand out as an organization, project, or individual. It breaks down into four main areas:

  • Strengths: standout qualities, like a strong brand, talented team, innovative tech, or efficient processes.

  • Weaknesses: limited resources, outdated tech, management struggles, or a lack of market impact.

  • Opportunities: Emerging trends, new technology, customer needs, or untapped markets.

  • Threats: Tough competition, economic downturns, regulatory hurdles, or disruptive technology.

By doing a SWOT analysis, you get a clear picture of your internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the external opportunities and threats you face. This insight guides improvements, strategic decisions, and action plans to leverage strengths and opportunities while addressing weaknesses and threats. SWOT analysis is widely used in business planning, marketing strategies, project management, and personal development.

Porter’s Five Forces Framework

Porter’s framework, also known as Porter’s Five Forces, is a framework that examines the level of competition in an industry by analyzing five key forces. It is a handy tool created by Michael Porter for strategic analysis. Porter’s Five Forces helps businesses understand the competitive landscape within an industry and assess its attractiveness and profitability. While it’s traditionally applied at the industry level, it can also be adapted for macro analysis to assess the broader competitive forces shaping entire economies or markets. By applying Porter’s Five Forces to macro analysis, stakeholders can gain a deeper understanding of the competitive forces shaping industries, economies, or regions, helping them make more informed decisions regarding strategy, policy, and investment.

Porters Five Forces for Macro Environmental Analysis
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Porters Five Forces

Porter’s Five Forces framework includes:

  • The threat of new entrants: Entry costs, customer loyalty, or strict regulations can make it challenging for newcomers.

  • Bargaining power of suppliers: Suppliers can hold significant sway, dictating prices or terms that affect businesses.

  • Bargaining power of buyers: If customers have the upper hand, they can demand lower prices or higher quality, which can impact businesses.

  • Threat of substitute products: Are there alternatives available that could lure customers away?

  • Intensity of competitive rivalry: The level of competition in the industry matters.

By analyzing these facts, organizations can understand their industry’s competitive dynamics better and make informed decisions. This framework helps identify areas of advantage, potential threats, and opportunities for differentiation. It’s widely used in business strategy, market analysis, and industry research.

Scenario Planning Analysis

Scenario planning analysis, also known as Scenario planning, is a strategic planning method used by organizations to help them make effective long-term plans. Scenario planning is like crafting a business adventure story. Instead of sticking to one storyline, you explore different paths and outcomes.

Explore scenario planning template examples

  • Identifying key variables: The factors that could shape your business’s future, such as market trends, tech advancements, or regulatory shifts.

  • Building scenarios: For instance, what if a new competitor jumps in, or if there’s an economic downturn?

  • Analyzing impacts: Weigh the risks, spot opportunities, and assess how well your current strategies stack up.

  • Preparing responses: This might mean tweaking your strategy, reallocating resources, or hunting for new opportunities.

By doing scenario planning analysis, you’re not just hoping for the best. You’re gearing up for whatever twists the future might bring. It’s like having a map with multiple routes to success, so you can navigate through uncertainty with confidence.

Critical Success Factor Analysis

Critical Success Factor (CSF) Analysis is a method in strategic management. It helps pinpoint the vital areas where an organization needs to excel to reach its goals. By identifying these crucial factors, businesses can concentrate their resources and efforts effectively.

Success Factors for Macro Environmental Analysis
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Success Factors Analysis

Here’s how it works:

  • Identifying key success factors: Essential ingredients for success in your field or project, like customer satisfaction, innovation, quality, or market share.

  • Measuring performance: Once you know what matters most, you check how well you’re doing in those areas. Are you hitting the mark, or are there gaps to fill?

  • Analyzing critical success factors: Consider each key factor to understand what makes success tick and what challenges you might face. This helps you focus your efforts where they’ll have the biggest impact.

  • Developing action plans: With insights in hand, you create action plans to boost your performance in critical areas. This might mean training your team, refining processes, or investing in new tech.

By conducting a Critical Success Analysis, you’re not flying blind. You’re illuminating the path to success and making sure you’re on the right track.

How to Do a Macro Environmental Analysis in 8 Steps

Doing a comprehensive macro environmental analysis involves several steps to understand the broader factors influencing your business or project.

Step 1 - Spot Key Factors

Figure out the big things outside your business that affect it, like economic trends, new tech, social changes, politics, and the environment.

Step 2 - Get Data

Gather info about each factor from trustworthy sources like government reports, industry mags, surveys, and studies.

Look at how these factors are changing over time and how they might affect your business. See if you notice any connections between them.

Step 4 - Find Opportunities and Threats

See if there are any chances to grow from good trends or if bad ones could cause trouble. Think about how each factor might impact your industry, rivals, customers, and partners.

Step 5 - Weigh Risks

Think about the risks linked to each factor, like how likely they are and what could happen if they happen. Consider both short-term and long-term effects.

Step 6 - Imagine Scenarios

Picture different possible futures by mixing up the factors. This helps you prepare for whatever might come your way.

Step 7 - Make Plans

Based on what you find, come up with smart moves to use the good stuff and dodge the bad. Adjust your business plans and goals as needed.

Step 8 - Stay Alert and Flexible

Keep an eye on how things change over time and adjust your plans accordingly. Be ready to adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

Follow these steps, and you’ll have a solid grasp of how external forces are shaping your business. Then, you can make smart decisions to keep your business on track.

Analyze and Develop Strategies Based on Macro Environmental Data

After you’ve gathered and looked over all the important information for each factor, it’s time to think about what it means for your industry or organization. Identify any chances to grow and any risks that might pop up because of the big picture.

Now that you’ve got your data sorted out, the next big step is to delve into how the macro environment affects the business. By really understanding these factors, you’ll be better prepared to make smart decisions and come up with solid future plans.

Based on the analysis, develop strategies and action plans to capitalize on the opportunities and mitigate the threats identified. This can involve adapting to new business strategies, adjusting marketing approaches, investing in new technologies, or addressing regulatory compliance.

Leveraging Creately for Macro Environmental Analysis

Creately offers a suite of intuitive templates as above and tools that facilitate the macro environmental analysis process. Let’s explore some key features:

Pre-built Templates:

Creately provides ready-to-use templates to help with your macro environmental analysis including PESTLE & SWOT analysis templates and other strategic analysis tools. They are customizable, allowing users to tailor them to their specific industry, geography, or business model.

Collaborative Diagramming:

Collaboration is key in analyzing complex environmental factors. Creately’s real-time collaboration features enable teams to work together seamlessly, regardless of their geographical location. Multiple users can contribute simultaneously, with synced previews and track changes with live mouse tracking. Additionally, they can use comments to discuss things on the canvas itself synchronously or asynchronously.

Notes and Data Fields:

You can use this Creately feature to keep records of unlimited data and information in the same place. To enrich the analysis process, Creately allows users to integrate external data sources directly into their diagrams. You can add data using the Notes Panel and Stickies. Even different shapes and objects can be used to add notes and relevant data. Whether pulling in economic indicators, demographic statistics, or regulatory updates, this feature ensures that analyses are based on the latest and most relevant information.

Intuitive Canvases with Shape Libraries:

Creately comes with an intuitive interface with simple drag and drop tools which includes shape libraries that help users visualize and shapes such as tables help to gather and organize information. Infinite canvases help bring in multiple templates, notes, documents and have all the information in one place for easy organization, collaboration, analysis as well as sharing.

Best Practices for Macro Environmental Analysis

To maximize the effectiveness of macro-environmental analysis, consider the following best practices:

  • Cross-functional Collaboration: Involve stakeholders from diverse functional areas to ensure a comprehensive analysis that accounts for various perspectives.

  • Regular Updates: The external environment is dynamic and constantly evolving. Regularly revisit and update your analysis to stay abreast of changes and trends.

  • Data-driven Insights: Base your analysis on reliable data from credible sources. Creately’s integration capabilities make it easy to incorporate up-to-date data into your diagrams.

  • Visual Clarity: Keep your diagrams clear and concise to facilitate understanding. Leverage Creately’s formatting options and design elements to improve visual clarity.

Iterative Approach: Macro environmental analysis is an iterative process. Continuously refine your analysis based on new information and insights.


Macro environmental analysis is an important step in strategic planning and decision-making for businesses across every industry. By leveraging Creately’s unlimited templates and tools, organizations can conduct thorough analyses that provide actionable insights into the external data shaping their operating environment. From political changes to technological advancements, a thorough macro environmental analysis helps users navigate the external factors with confidence and ease, for sustainable growth and success.

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

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Heroshe Mihindukulasuriya
Heroshe Mihindukulasuriya Content Specialist

Heroshe is a content specialist and a writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. He is responsible for creating engaging, informative, and high-quality content that helps users understand and utilize the platform's features effectively. He mainly focuses on making complex concepts easy to grasp, and is passionate about art & music.

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